Braised oxtail with harissa and watercress

Braised oxtail with harissa and watercress. Photograph: Harry Weir

Braised oxtail with harissa and watercress. Photograph: Harry Weir

Sat, Feb 18, 2017, 06:00

  • Serves: 6
  • Cooking Time: 180 mins
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: Fusion


  • 4 oxtails (each cut into three pieces, your butcher will do this for you)
  • 30ml vegetable oil
  • 2 carrots
  • 300ml red wine
  • 1 large onion
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 8 sprigs of thyme
  • 3 celery stalks
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2tbsp honey
  • 600g watercress
  • For the harissa :
  • 1 red chilli
  • 3 red peppers, cored and cut into chunks
  • 250ml rapeseed oil
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Juice of half a lemon


Pre-heat your oven to 150 degrees Celsius/gas 2. Season the oxtail well. Heat a heavy-based casserole dish, add the oil and the oxtail to brown it all over. Add the red wine to deglaze and allow to reduce rapidly for five minutes. Now add the carrot, onion, garlic, thyme, celery, honey, and add enough warm water to cover everything. Cover with a lid and place into the oven to braise for four to five hours, or until the meat comes away from the bone easily.

For the harissa: In a separate pot bring the oil to 70 degrees Celsius. Drop in the chilli and peppers. If you don’t have a thermometer just use the peppers as a gauge. They should be very hot to the touch but not bubbling or changing colour. Cook slowly for at least one hour, then strain, but reserve the oil (it’s excellent to use in dressing/vinaigrettes). Place the peppers and chilli in a food processor and blend. Season to taste and stir in the lemon juice.

When the oxtail is cooked, pick the meat from the bones. Strain and then reduce the cooking liquor to a sticky consistency and fold it back into the meat.

To serve, spoon the harissa onto a plate, top with a couple of spoonfuls of the oxtail (use a scone cutter as a mould) and divide the watercress between the six plates.